During my first visit in the vineyards of Cyprus, I had the chance to wander a bit and I was really impressed by the low yielding dry - farmed bush vines, planted on their own roots. Phylloxera never arrived at the island and Cyprus is one of the very few countries worldwide that escaped from this catastrophic pest.
For general information about the wines of Cyprus and to check tasting notes you can see here.
So the adventure today starts at 850 m high at the village of Panayia. Panayia is famous for being the birth town of Archbishop Makarios, the first President of Cypriot democracy. This is also where Vouni Panayia winery was established in 1987 by Andreas Kyriakides. Now next generation is also in motion with Andreas' sons, Yiannis, Petros and Pavlos. It is the only winery so far in the country that produces entirely wines from indigenous varieties. As already mentioned in one of my earlier posts about Cyprus, the late Akis Zabartas, a pioneer winemaker during his career as Oenologist in KEO, re-discovered 12 native Cypriot grape varieties, which he recorded, planted and vinified.
Among them the most important were: Maratheftiko, Lefkada, Promara, Spourtiko, Flouriko, Yiannoudi, Kanella, Omoio, Morokanella, Michalia and Maroucho.
Panayia winery produces 8 labels and 300.000 bottles in total from 30 hectares of land. It is also in the process of being certified as organic. Kyriakides informed me about the low yields, i.e. 35 hl/ha for Yiannoudi and Maratheftiko and 70 hl/ha for white Xynisteri. For Promara, an upcoming new variety it is close to 40 hl/ha. When asked about the potential of indigenous varieties, Kyriakides suggested that the future can be glorious with extensive research.
Soils in Cyprus and the Vouni Panayia vineyards are another interesting aspect. Here we will mainly find limestone with some volcanic patches in Troodos together with a bedrock of clay which is good for drought, a situation encountered in 98% of Cyprus vineyards.
I was really caught by our tour in Vouni Panayia vineyards’ where we reached 1000 m high (check the pics!) The main image where Kyriakides rings the bell of the small church close to a vineyard is the highest spot!
After a fantastic exploration and some stops to taste local traditional food while drinking Zivania (traditional Cypriot spirit) I did have the chance to retaste the wines and focus a little bit more in Promara. This is a variety not yet included in Wine Grapes yet I have already informed Jose Vouillamoz about the high quality of the wines and I hope that it will soon be included therein.
The mini vertical tasting consisted of three vintages. The 2013 showed a Burgundy like character with well-defined oak and ripe stone fruit on the nose followed by a creamy and elegant palate with long finish. Moderate alcohol of 12.5% but plenty of flavour for this delicious wine. 91/100
Then came the 2014 with a very complex nose and less new oak treatment (I suppose that they bought the barrels in 2013). Herbal nose with juniper – like aromas, citrus fruit and excellent oak integration. Oily yet very elegant on the palate with high concentration, underlying bright acidity and clean finish. 93/100
Last the current vintage 2015 which is mineral, almost flinty again with herbal notes on the nose. Very young on the palate needs more time in the bottle to be assessed properly. 90-92/100
Lovely experience revealing that Cyprus might be one of the next hidden gems in the wine world!